hurdling, sprinting at final day of US Championships
Ed Gordon for the IAAF
23 June 2002 - Stanford, California - Although the American sprinters had labeled the Stanford University track “soft” and better suited for distance runners, they avoided turning these comments into self-fulfilling prophecies by running some of the best times of the season on the final day of the US Championships in Palo Alto, California.
Three-time 100 hurdles world champion Gail Devers was the first to demonstrate what could be done on the Angell Field track with a world-leading 12.51 to capture her eighth US title in that event.
It was the usual textbook start which propelled Devers to the fast time, as Miesha McKelvy followed the veteran closely to take second in a PB 12.60. Several hours earlier, Devers had won her semifinal heat in 12.61, after posting a 12.56 in the heats on Saturday. All three of her races exceeded the world’s best time which had stood at 12.63 at the opening of the championships.
Edmonton champion Anjanette Kirkland lagged somewhat behind the leading pair with 12.85 for third place. In spite of a headwind of 0.5, six hurdlers broke thirteen seconds in the deepest finish ever at a non-Olympic Trials version of the US championships.
Allen Johnson followed the pattern established by Devers, as he took the lead early in the race and carried it through to the finish in 13.08, a performance second only to his own world-leading 13.04 for this season.
For Johnson, it was the fifth time he had stood atop the victory stand at the national championships, and it certainly blotted out any memory of the late-race ambush he had suffered last week in his final tune-up in Ostrava.
Sydney silver medallist Terrence Trammell equalled his season best of 13.17 in second place behind Johnson, as he pipped Larry Wade at the tape. Wade’s 13.18, coupled with his 13.19 earlier in the semifinals, is a sign of consistency and that perhaps he has finally overcome the lingering effects of an automobile accident shortly before the 2000 Olympics Trials.
Unlike Maurice Greene, who opted out of the 200 metres after his 100-metre win yesterday, Marion Jones was anxious to gain a second World Cup team spot with a victory in the 200.
Running in lane six, Jones used the wider curve to her advantage as she came into the final straight with the lead. But it wasn’t the margin she might have expected, as last year’s runner-up, Kelli White, was bearing down hard just on her inside.
A slight surge near the end kept Jones’ win secure, as she crossed the line in 22.35, ahead of White’s 22.50, while the remaining runners were unable to break 23 seconds.
Was Jones surprised that White challenged her today? “Not at all. After all, she won the bronze medal in Edmonton. She’s running well this year.”
The “Greene-less” men’s 200 metres was won by Ramon Clay in 20.27, as reigning world indoor champion Shawn Crawford—who was even with Clay after the turn - appeared fatigued on the run-in and faded to fourth at 20.57.
Darvis Patton, who had run a PB 20.15 in the semifinals earlier in the day, clocked 20.31 to stay ahead of Bernard Williams (20.37) in the battle for second.
Stacy Dragila returned to the site of her pole vault world record last year and found the venue just as inviting as before. Opening at 4.30, she dispatched six consecutive heights with a single attempt, up to 4.65, before failing three times at a would-be world record of 4.82. It was the sixth win at the US championships for the Seville, Sydney and Edmonton gold medallist.
“Things are coming along well,” she said of her day’s effort. “I liked that last attempt. But the pole I was using was a little too soft, and I’m coming off a little too soon.”
Third at the 2001 championships, Mary Sauer moved up a place into second with 4.45, as Mel Mueller rebounded from a no-height last year to finish third at 4.40.
Nicole Teter put on an impressive display of middle-distance running in the women’s 800 metres, as she produced a wire-to-wire win in 1:58.83. Competing on her home track, the 28-year-old Teter continued her remarkable season by opening with a 58.11 lap enroute to a time which only indoor world-record holder Jolanda Ceplak and Olympic champion Maria Mutola have achieved thusfar in 2002.
“My plan was to set the pace myself and bring it home,” she revealed. “I’m leaving tomorrow for Europe, and my goal is to set a new outdoor American record [1:56.40]. Even if I get close to it, I will be very happy.”
The current holder of the US women’s 800-metre record, Jearl Miles Clark, was today back running her old event, the 400 metres, in which she was world champion in 1993. The 35-year-old Miles Clark outsprinted current world-leader Michelle Collins in the final straight, 50.91 to 51.20, and took her fourth US title.
“We had a strong headwind on the back stretch, and that slowed the times,” she said, almost apologetically. “I knew I had to be patient to catch Michelle.”
US men’s triple jumping appears to be on the rebound after three consecutive lacklustre seasons. Along with Kenta Bell’s 17.63 in April—still the world leader—now comes Walter Davis with a 17.59 victory today to put American jumpers in the top two spots on the world list. Twice an NCAA champion and also a finalist at Sydney, Davis also had a 17.30 in his series, the same distance jumped by Tim Rusan in taking second place, although Rusan’s leap was wind-aided.
A fourth-place finisher in the men’s 400 hurdles at Sydney, James Carter ran aggressively through the first five of the event’s ten hurdles, and then smoothly glided home in a season-best 48.12. Only South African hurdler Llewellyn Herbert’s world-leading time of 48.02 is faster this year.
Joey Woody might have challenged Carter in the late stages had he not collided with Eric Thomas on the eighth hurdle. Woody still managed to easily hold second at 48.52, as Thomas staggered home in 49.72 for third place. Calvin Davis, the bronze medallist from Atlanta, was fourth with 49.84.
Sandra Glover had no competition in winning the women’s 400 hurdles in 55.22, as the rest of the field was more than two seconds behind.
With the void left by last year’s retirement of Michael Johnson, no one has yet appeared as the leader of the US men’s 400 runners. The man who finished behind Johnson in Sydney, Alvin Harrison, may have put forth his candidacy this weekend, with a 45.15 in the heats on a cold, windy Friday, and then a 44.62 to take the title today.
The reigning 400 hurdles Olympic champion, Angelo Taylor, elected to run the flat race at these championships, and his 45.00 took second ahead of former world champion Antonio Pettigrew (45.17). Current world leader Leonard Byrd could manage no better than fourth at 45.28.
In his post-race comments, Harrison revealed some unusual goals. “I want to become the ultimate sprinter: sub-44 in the 400, sub-20 in the 200, and sub-10 in the 100.” At age 28, Harrison would appear to have some challenging training ahead if these are to be realized.
At every US championships, Regina Jacobs enters everything from the 800 to the 5000, and then makes her selection at the last minute. This year, it was the 1500, which the 38-year-old two-time world championship silver medallist won for the eleventh time in (for her) a rather routine 4:09.57.
Suzy Favor Hamilton (4:11.31) held off a last-gasp kick by Sarah Schwald (4:11.40) for second place.
After his exploits during the indoor season, Tim Broe was expected to be the favorite in the men’s steeplechase results. But with more than three laps left in the race, the Universiade champion from last year, Anthony Famiglietti, charged ahead of the field and was unstoppable. The 23-year-old New Yorker scored his first US championship win in a PB 8:19.07, as Steve Slattery outlegged Broe for second, 8:23.44 to 8:23.61.
A veteran of four world championships and three Olympic Games, 34-year-old Mark Croghan was sixth in 8:29.24.
Nathan Leeper’s foot problem from late last season seems to be cured, and the Kansan repeated his title from last season with a 2.32 clearance in the high jump. Charles Clinger and Matt Hemingway tied for second at 2.29, while former world champion Charles Austin, now 34 years old, could manage only 2.19 for seventh.
Full results may be found at www.flashresults.com.